Free Standing Statues

HideShow resource information

Introduction to Free Standing Sculpture

  • In archaic period primarily concerned with depictions of man
  • Egyptian influence can be seen in free standing sculpture 
  • male kouros/kouroi 
  • Nude male statues - the physical beauty represents inner goodness.
  • Often found in sanctuaries as dedications offering a more permanent way of worshipping a deity. 
  • Another use of them was as grave markers instead of tombstone - designed to capture the deceased in their prime
  • Both uses they are substitutes in nature i.e. there to represent someone who cannot be there themselves 
  • How the statues are made: block of marble then begin chiselling away from each angle until sides meet and the figure is created. Were problems with this technique as you ended up with quite square set bodies and angular features - bodies havent properly broken free from block.
  • Early Greek statues have their left foot advanced - idea they are about to set off walking.
  • Always with hands by their sides, full frontal pose, clenched fists.
  • This pose lasted for about 100 years but we can see the sort of improvements that happened over this period. 
1 of 12

New York Kouros

  • Late 7th C BC - earliest surviving male attic statue. 
  • About life size. 
  • Can clearly see Egyptian influence - very similar in style. (Egyptian statues however never break completely from the marble but Greek manage to)
  • Sculptors had to make sure statue could hold their weight - even distribution, keeping it central so back or front didnt break. 
  • Massive head compared to size of body. Almost quite a childlike body. everything quite square
  • Musculature not particularly well pronounced. 
  • Head features: Hair crudely done and immaculately arranged at same length etc. , huge bulging eyes and no eyelids. eyebrows completely mirror eyes not very realistic, tiny mouth, ears very high and long way back on head. very decorative with swirl at the top. 
  • Havent managed to free arms from body 
  • Quite tiny thighs but massive calves and ankles providing support. 
  • Sculptors at the time like everything else were interested in repetition, symmetry and pattern and here is no exception.
  • Lots of vertical lines of symmetry e.g. repeated V pattern of groin and inverted V from chest. 
  • Sharp line down shines shows difficulty of chiselling from both sides
  • Shoulder blades on back ridiculously defined. 
2 of 12

Sounion Kouros

  • Late 7th C but later than New York Kouros as there are improvements
  • Over 3m tall 
  • Originally dedicated to Poseidon at Sounion
  • Can see attempt at detail on abdominal section. 
  • More masculine neck 
  • Generally more muscular than New York Kouros
  • Still bad:
  • unrealistic knees
  • repetition/decorativeness of hair
  • large bulging almond shaped eyes
  • thick ankles
  • almost triangular face
  • hips very narrow. 
3 of 12

Kleobis and Biton

  • About 580BC. From Delphi. Over 3m tall
  • Story comes from Herodotos: Just before festival oxen did not arrive to carry statue of Hera (the brothers' mother was a priestess of Hera) so the boys pulled the cart 45 stades and the mother was so grateful she asked Hera to reward them so Hera gives them the privilege of dying in her temple. 
  • An attempt in the statues to capture part of the story - they appear physically stronger than other statues of the time. 
  • Less concern about decorative patterning
  • Anatomy is much better e.g. better sizing of ankles and thighs, waist is fuller, dip for bellybutton making it more realistic, arms and hands more free from rest of body. 
  • Hair falls in front and behind - more natural. 
  • Eyes and ears more natural shape and better proportion. 
  • Heads still quite large and angular but features themselves are more rounded. 
  • We begin to see here the archaic smile - an attempt to show a sense of life in the statues. 
4 of 12

Anavyssos Kouros

  • Grave marker to Kroisos, made about 530BC
  • 50 years later than Kleobis and Biton. A lot has changed...
  • Body appears taller and more slender - proportions better than K and B
  • Pose has stayed the same however. 
  • Form of the body more realistic - coming away from artifical lines of symmetry and pattern 
  • Muscle tone and facial features more rounded and limbs flow more naturally fron one to the other.
  • Extra details like eyelids and creases around body 
  • Subtle smile again here. 
  • Still a bit of decoration on the ear but generally more realistic. 
  • Hair still repetitve pattern - v. decorative curls around the front but they are presented much better
  • Quite feminine hips. 
  • Only a tiny bit left keeping arms attached to body. 
  • Stance quite rigid and unnatural - looks worse on him than others because there is so much else about him improving. 
  • Rear view: can see indentation but shoulder blades come quite far down. less pronounced though. Generally the musclature is much better
5 of 12

Aristodikos Kouros

  • End of 6th C
  • Was a grave marker
  • Arms brought slightly further forward.
  • Solved problem of discordant hair - It's short now so no decorative pattern - much more realistic. 
  • Smoothness of musculature is a vast improvement - smooth transition from torso to legs. 
  • More subtle lines on body - subtle undulations on torso, ankles go in. 
  • Everything much more realistic except the pose. 
  • Aristodikos is so convincing and looks so much like a real man. 
  • However each new improved detail only serves to highlight the unnaturalness of pose. 
6 of 12


  • Main difference from male is that they are always clothed. 
  • Serve same purposes as male statues. 
  • Many in sanctuaries likely to be serving Artemis, Hera, Demeter etc.
  • For men you see what kind of person they are by looking at the physical attributes but not the case with female as they are clothed. 
  • Early marble examples are called daedalic as they have a triangular face with long and straight nose. Hair tends to be quite rectangular coming down to the brow. 
  • Would have been painted in colour
  • Dont have many examples of korai before 570BC but after this time they are much more common. 
7 of 12

Nikandre Kore

  • Found on island of Delos at temple of Artemis and Apollo
  • Dates from around 650BC - 625BC (earliest complete kore statue)
  • 1.75m tall and in daedalic style
  • Surface of statue actually quite poor as the island was exposed to strong weather. 
  • Elements suggesting early date: Simplicity...
  • There is no pattern in drapery or creases or folds. 
  • Skirt lifted a bit at bottom just for feet to be visible 
  • Arms almost fully attached to sides 
  • Thinner waist accentuated by belt is quite a nice touch - makes her look a bit feminine but otherwise not a very feminine looking statue. 
  • Almost quite geometric around face - inverted triangle of face and triangular hair around it.
8 of 12

Berlin Goddess

  • Found in Attica. Made about 570-560BC
  • 1.90m tall. 
  • Depicts goddess holding a pomegranate and wearing elaborate jewellery 
  • She wears a chiton (dress) and a himation (cloak) and headdress called a polos 
  • Lots of decorative elements and highly stylised. 
  • More folds and pattern depicted on clothing
  • Face not triangular
  • More feminine body - curves etc. can see female form beneath drapery.
  • Arguably aspects are more focused on decorative side than realism. decoration in hair and clothing
  • Catenery folds in cloak also indicate more interest in decorativeness than realism
  • Drapery quite heavy looking
  • Managed to free arm quite a lot - quite clever way cloak actually acts as support, joining arm to body.
  • Unrealistic gap in dress to show feet
  • large bulbous eyes and eyebrows mirror perfectly - unrealistic
  • Generally features more rounded but can still see her face is quite angular. 
9 of 12

Draped Female Figure Dedicated to Hera on Samon

  • Abotu 560BC
  • Wears thin linen undergarment that falls into folds - small parallel incisions along bottom to indicate this. 
  • Different kinds of drapery makes the statue more interesting to look at - smooth veil on right, heavy woollen cloak diagonally over top half of body. 
  • Not as symmetrical as other attic female statues - relies more on variety of pattern and the use of bright colour would have reinforced this.
  • Form of body subtly visible 
10 of 12

Kore 675

  • 530-520BC
  • Found on Acropolis in Athens
  • By this time drapery is now much more decorative 
  • Thin garment called chiton and diagonally draped woollen cloak 
  • Shape of breasts can be seen clearly under the drapery
  • Skirt pulled to one side so outline of legs even more visible.
  • 3 different patterns in hair - ringlets over shoulders, undulating fringe and above that tight curls 
  • Way the breast breaks fall of hair is an improvement 
  • Not really visible eyelids - strange bulging eyes. 
  • Archaic Smile
  • Head still seems quite large for body but features are much more rounded
  • Artist clearly still interested in decorative - formal arrangement of hair. 
11 of 12

Peplos Kore

  • Wears chiton and a simple peplos on top. <- usual garment worn by women of ancient Greece until mid 6th C BC
  • perhaps not completely proportionate - seems top heavy. almost like two halves of different statues. 
  • Top half quite masculine - v. broad shoulders and thick arms
  • Not much decoration on drapery and folds are minimal
  • Generally much more minimalist
  • Attempt at showing drapery react to form underneath though - little folds in material showing where material gathers, particularly at elbow. 
  • Massive head which is quite square, facial features themselves quite rounded though. 
  • Hair quite formulaic but nicely carved - looks more like curls than beading. 
  • Now curls on top of head - bold and new arguably an improvement?
  • archaic smile again. 
12 of 12


No comments have yet been made

Similar Classical Civilization resources:

See all Classical Civilization resources »See all Art and Architecture resources »